Dubai seeks to lure remote workers with free Covid-19 vaccination

Having launched the scheme in October, Dubai is now promoting free vaccines as an added perk. PHOTO: AFP

DUBAI (BLOOMBERG) - Dubai is trying to cash in on the vaccine economy by calling on digital nomads to move to the city for remote work, even as cases rise to record levels.

With vaccine rollouts facing delays globally, Dubai is hoping to capitalise on wealthy, young professionals who need little more than a laptop for work to shore up its economy.

Having launched the scheme in October, Dubai is now promoting free vaccines as an added perk.

"Do you want to mix business with pleasure in Dubai? With a new one-year virtual working programme, you can live and work by the beach," says the Visit Dubai website. "An added benefit of the programme is that all UAE residents receive Covid-19 vaccinations free of charge," it says.

This comes amid a record increase in infections since the end of last year as the United Arab Emirates opened up for travel and eased movement restrictions.

Daily cases have tripled since November, prompting Dubai to impose fresh restrictions on air travel and hospitals.

The oil-rich country has approved a vaccine developed by China's Sinopharm, as well as Pfizer and BioNTech's shot, and has since rolled out an aggressive vaccination campaign.

It has so far inoculated a quarter of its population of 10 million, second only to Israel globally.

The UAE also plans to start manufacturing the Sinopharm vaccine this year.

This shot is free for all holders of a residence visa in the country, which Dubai's remote work programme provides if a candidate meets the minimum US$5,000 (S$6,640) monthly salary requirement.

In addition, Dubai has made the shot developed by Pfizer and BioNTech available to some of its residents, with the first phase targeting senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with chronic diseases aged 18 or above and front-line workers.

However, supply shortages have forced Dubai to reschedule appointments for the first dose.

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